My Sweet Woman,
Last week, I wrote to you bluntly about how grace shall cover both of our sexual pasts. Today, I want to clear up some of the myths I see in the media portrayals of sex, and be open and trusting of you as I confess some struggles. I do this because I feel like the two worldviews that dominate our airwaves on the subject (the sex-worshiping pagan and the abstinence-only-worshiping, Armenian, Youth Pastor), are both wrong, and the only good teaching on sex comes from books on marriage, which doesn’t fully address what you and I deal with on a daily basis as single people in a pagan, urban, postmodern culture.
First of all, I don’t know why sex is glamorized and trivialized by our culture. If you watch any tv these days, sex is just another bodily function and has no physical or emotional repercussions, and the people doing it do not have a spiritual component at all. In addition, men seem to be wired to want sex to the exclusion of all else, and women are portrayed as sex dispensers who must be tricked or bribed into trading sex or physical intimacy for the emotional closeness they seem to exclusively want.
This is all bullshit. Pardon my French, “merde de taureau”. Our parent’s Christianity has avoided addressing this, and our churches for the most part has ignored talking about it. Even though we have some great post-evangelical teachings (see the chapters on sex in the marriage books by Driscoll, Eldredge, and Keller), just last year I heard a pastor give a remarkably incomplete and reductionist treatment of the subject that was premised off of these untrue cultural stereotypes. Let me take some space to deconstruct these one-by-one.
- Sex isn’t Glamorous. Sex is messy, awkward, terrifying, beautiful, and quite honestly ridiculous. If you approach sex too seriously, as Catholics or your homeschooling Aunt Martha, you wind up with medieval monks writing more commentaries about how Song of Solomon is an allegory for Christ and the Church, and the neo-Platonic heresy that sex is only legitimate as a means of procreation (and, as a result, your thirteen homeschooled cousins). Think about the physical act of love for a second. Think about how ridiculously lanky humans are and how awkwardly God has placed all of the important parts. Think about how absurd it is for us men to be so mind-numbingly obsessed to such ridiculous things as the lumps of tissue that are breasts and butts. If you can’t believe that God has a sense of humor, I don’t believe you can understand sex.
- Sex isn’t Trivial. In sex we are baring ourselves to another person, and Jesus said that we become one being with them in the communal act of lovemaking. We are completely vulnerable, physically, emotionally, and spirutally, and there is no way to be completely vulnerable to a flawed human being without being wounded or a past wound re-opened. This is why deep-down I find sex terrifying, why if I were to have sex out of wedlock I would rather it be with a trusted female friend than with a supermodel who is a stranger, and why God asks us to save that intimacy for the gracious covering of a marriage blessed by him. I don’t think I am the only person who thinks this way, but if you believe the television, guys like me want sex with anyone who has a pulse, no reservations or doubts. This just isn’t true.
- Women are just as sex-obsessed as men. To think that only males are horny and women must be convinced that it is a good idea is just silly. Women want sex just as much as men, in some cases more. You as a species seem to be more aware of how you are more than just a physical being, and the emotional and spiritual components of sex, whereas we males tend to call everything physical and deny that we have emotions, but women love sex. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but can we at least be honest? Men and women both want to do the horizontal Charleston. We both like the rush of hormones that come from being aroused and we both seek out that rush. We dance, we look at porn, we flirt, we sext, we read 50 Shades of Grey. Whatever floats our boat on the sea known as our endocrine system. Instead of pretending like we don’t have these desires, let’s be honest and admit that God created us with sex drives and that’s ok, because…
- Having a sex drive isn’t a sin. If you can find me a Christian teenager who is trying to follow God and DOESN’T feel like something is wrong with them because they want to have sex, I will give their parents, pastors, and teachers a trophy. I have found that the more in the “Christian” world one is, especially for females, the more guilty and dirty one feels about being a normal human being. The truth is, God created us as relational beings, to desire deep intimate relationships with God and others, and to want to express that with our whole being through sex. That’s the way God made us, and as we steward these desires (i.e. not enslaved by them, but not burying them) we invest in the Kingdom and draw nearer to God. To desire sex is normal, but to steward that desire in a culture where reproduction isn’t highly valued and marriage is pushed off later than bygone ages is difficult. Let’s not pretend like it isn’t difficult, or that the struggle isn’t there, and support and encourage each other to draw near to God in the struggles common to our human experience.
Thank you for hearing me out. I appreciate your willingness to listen to my perspective, and I think that, as we continue this conversation with wisdom, we will grow closer in trust.
A Christian Guy